It was our first time in Arizona. My family and I had stayed in Flagstaff the previous night and arose bright and early that morning for the next leg in our journey. We had packed up the Aerostar and set out across the country, on a journey of discovery and fun. Our daughter was 11 years old and my mom and stepfather traveled with us as well. We can recount many memories from that trip in 2000...laughs we had, funny things we teased one another about, seeing landscapes that we had never seen before. The beauty of New Mexico was amazing. The heat and barrenness of the Mojave Desert were awe-inspiring. We have talked of this trip many times over the intervening years with fond memories and laughter. This particular day, however, stands out in my mind with special significance.
Having left I-40, we were making our way up highway 64 toward our destination. We passed through the little town of Tusayan. By area, it is the smallest town in the state of Arizona, with only 144 acres, or .225 square miles. The town boasts a population, according to the 2010 census (when it was incorporated), of 562. I mention this little town because it stands in stark contrast to the destination to which we were traveling.
As we rolled into the national park, the foliage and terrain of the area were unique in this high desert Kaibab Plateau. Our anticipation of our destination made our hearts beat a little faster in our chests and we searched for glimpses. Traveling along a park road, we caught a slight glimpse, but the full view of this, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, would elude us until we had disembarked from our vehicle and walked the trail among the trees.
Then it appeared. As we approached the rim of the canyon, the immensity of this vast river gorge overwhelmed me. My emotions caught in my throat and my eyes scanned the view to try to take it all in. Frankly, it was difficult to fully grasp what I was seeing. The Grand Canyon is grand indeed. That day, as we walked along the rim, stepped out onto an observation point with a clear floor, looked into the vast 6,000+ feet drop from rim to floor, I immediately thought of the greatness of the God who created the earth. We drove to the east, around the rim of the canyon, until we came to a place where there was an observation tower. From that vantage point, we watched a thunderstorm, lightning and all, make its way across the canyon in the distance. It was truly an awesome sight to see. No words can do justice to what I experienced. You had to be there...I was...and I worshiped.
Have you ever been in that kind of situation...an experience that was so moving and impactful in your life, but, as you tried to describe it to others, you were at a loss for words? You have probably said, "You just had to be there." I think I've had several of those experiences over the years. I've found myself in experiences that have moved me to turn my eyes to the God of the universe and...worship.
What do you think of when you hear the word, "Worship?" For many, it may bring images of Sunday gatherings at church, singing in a congregation, or maybe rituals that are meaningful in turning our hearts toward God. I would challenge you to consider a much broader and, frankly, more biblical view of worship. The Scriptures teach us that worship begins with a presentation of ourselves to God in service...a daily abandonment of our will to His and a seeking of His will in each of the moments of our day. The words of Romans 12:1-2 put it succinctly..
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
So...we are taught that the true way of worship is to give ourselves as an offering to God...daily. As we do so, our "living sacrifice," made holy by the blood and sacrifice of Christ, is received by the Father as worship...the kind that really matters. It matters because it leads us into the process of transformation...in our actions and our thinking. It opens our hearts and minds to know and follow the perfect will of God...that which is good and pleasing to Him. In turn, we explore the journey of His purpose in our lives and that brings great joy to us. I know because I've been there, and I've worshiped.
So, the next time you find yourself in a place that captures your attention...something about God's creation, a critical turn in life's road, or maybe just a conversation with a friend over coffee...abandon yourself to God in that moment, worship Him, allow Him to work in you and through you to fulfill His "good and pleasing and perfect" purpose. You will be there...and you will worship.
“I have one desire now – to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it.” ~Elisabeth Elliot
Have you experienced one of those "You had to be there" moments? Where was it? How did God speak or impact you? What did you learn about Him, and about yourself? Comment about your experiences. Like and share as well to get a conversation going.
With over forty years of ministry experience, Randy Kinnick continues to live a life of pursuing the purpose for which he was created. Whether teaching God's Word to adults, coaching youth and young adults in finding their purpose, or caring for the hurting and abused in Southeast Asia, the adventure has taken him around the world in ways he could have never dreamed. The adventure continues!